Is 9mm Enough for Bear Protection?

VD November 11 2021

The majority of hunters like sitting around the fire and talking about guns, but in reality, hunting involves a lot more risk. When we talk about bears, these animals can be tough, both in their attitude and construction, because of their strong muscles, thick hides, and big bones. Usually, big bullets are used in the bear protection handguns, whereas the big-bore revolvers with flat-nosed, heavy-for-caliber, and not expanding bullets can do the job very well. There's one more thing worth mentioning, usually the hunters are choosing guns with calibers that can drop down deer or elk. Big-game bullets are used for protection against bears.

Many people ask whether it’s enough to have 9mm for bear protection because it is capable of killing a bear, but the majority of experienced foresters consider it underpowered. Although the right 9mm bullets may cause sufficient damage to the animal, yet they may not be strong enough to kill the bear.

Can a 9mm kill a bear?

It is crucial to keep in mind that when you are away in the woods, then you are alone fighting with nature, whereas nature fights hard to win over you. No matter what gun you have, the wilderness doesn't care about it; therefore, if you face a bear and have a 9mm gun, you must shoot the beast in the brain.  A shot in the heart, lungs, or arteries won't be enough, so if you manage to do this, then it will guarantee the death of the bear. Nevertheless, your killer 9mm bullet may not even penetrate through the skull because an animal brain is small and protected by thick bones of the head.

If you are lucky enough to miss hitting the brain, the bear will become even more aggressive and dangerous. The large 9mm bullet may destroy muscles, but it can't cause internal bleeding, but a heavy shock to internal organs is enough for the animal to die.

The 9mm has an energy of around 350 to 450 ft/lbs., this can never be enough to kill a bear even with more than one shot. The minimum for bear hunting is considered to be 1,000 ft/lbs. Therefore, if you are using a 9mm for the bear with the right bullets, then it can indeed penetrate through its soft tissue, but instead of getting killed, the bear may still manage to escape.

Have anyone killed bears with a 9mm?

There have been around three bears killed with a 9mm pistol in recent years, but all of this happened during a defensive situation. It is worth noting that at least four shots were needed in all of these incidents, which gives us a great idea about the strength of a 9mm bullet.

One thing we understand about guns is that everything is a compromise. The main idea of having a 9mm pistol is to keep a lightweight gun with relatively cheaper ammo, which means it can be a little hard to aim. Therefore, this is a compromise with a 9mm handgun, and if you have a more minor and a less powerful gun, then you may be putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. In many cases, people choose to carry both handguns and rifles because of the ammunition they have.

Bear protection is always important to work, but you need to remember that good aim doesn’t mean everything if you are not using a big-game caliber bullet. For example, bear protection experts consider .44 Magnum or .454 Casull more than enough for bear protection. While 9mm is OK if you are carrying another gun, but not for any situation with an animal that can attack.

A lot of people think that it's enough to have a 9mm handgun in case they get attacked by these beasts; however, the truth is that even those cases where 9mm bullets were used didn't always succeed in killing the bear. If you are looking for more serious protection, then it's advisable to have a rifle with bullets that can travel fast and penetrate through the bones of an animal’s head.

When can be a 9mm an excellent choice to kill bears?

Although it is not recommended to have a 9mm for a bear, when you don't have any other option in the wilderness, you can be sure that it can beat a sharp stick. Another excellent reason for carrying a 9mm in a bear country is that it is the only pistol capable of shooting well in a dangerous situation.

There is no doubt that Remington is significantly better than a 9mm, but if you are not able to hit anything with a Remington, then it may not be any good to you. With the rise in the fame of concealed carry, many people go to the woods with a 9mm pistol on their waist, which means that it is never a bad option to have, primarily if you haven't carried a pistol before.

In a 9mm case, even being able to hit something is good enough. This means you have the chance to run away or fire several more shots if necessary. If your pistol of choice is not available for some reason, then it's better than facing the bear with nothing in your hand.

You may be running out of bullets during an attack, but if you are able to injure the bear even once through your 9mm bullet, then it is enough for the animal to retreat.

Final Words

Most people consider a 44-magnum revolver to be the best bear handgun, but when we talk about the 9mm for a bear, it may not be the best option for you. But there are situations when it is what you have; then you can use it. If you use the best ammo with a 9mm, it can penetrate around two to three feet and do good damage. Therefore, one can say that although it's not a popular option for bear protection, it is still impressive. 

It is worth noting that the best bear protection experts and hunters believe that you should avoid using a handgun at all if possible. Most experts say that it's better to carry a rifle in case you meet an aggressive bear. If you are not able to find one, then your best bet is to prepare yourself for the worst and run for your life after firing a warning shot.

Though it’s unlikely that you will meet a bear during your visit to the woods, accidents can happen and you never know what to expect when you are in the wilderness. If nothing else, having a 9mm is better than carrying no protection at all; therefore, stay safe with this option rather than risking your life in the wild.